Airevale United Reformed Churches

Brotherton - Castleford - Knottingley


In July 2005, Anthony Walker, an 18-year old who had been brought up a Christian, was murdered by two youths on Merseyside who had attended the same school as him. Some months later, his mother, Gee Walker, having suffered one of the most devastating crises that anyone can experience, said she would follow Jesus’ example and forgive his killers. She said, “Jesus said ‘I forgive them because they know not what they do.’ I have got to forgive them. I still forgive them.” “Why live a life sentence? Hate killed my son, so why should I be a victim too?” said Mrs Walker.

“Unforgiveness makes you a victim and why should I be a victim? Anthony spent his life forgiving. His life stood for peace, love and forgiveness and I brought him up that way. I have to practice what I preach. I don't feel any bitterness towards them really, truly, all I feel is... I feel sad for the family.”

This story illustrates several important aspects of Christian life, a life in which faith provides:-
A rock, a sure support in time of trouble
A means of coming to terms with death
A way to go on living a meaningful life during and after crises
A way to relate to other people, no matter how much harm they have done you
A way to bring up children that will encourage them to make appropriate life choices, have good relationships with other people, to come to terms with crisis situations and to understand the world around them and to encourage similar behaviour and respect in their own children.

Wouldn’t you like to have this kind of faith and to support, and be supported by, like minded people around you? Faith of this depth doesn’t usually come immediately (although it can sometimes). At the URC, we aim to provide an environment in which your faith can grow. We won’t brainwash you or push you into things: most of what happens will come from within yourself. There are just two fundamental rules, given to us by Jesus himself .

Love God, Love your neighbour as yourself

Faith and living
As well as coming to church, prayer and Bible reading will help you to build your faith. Prayer is, among other things, a mental discipline by which we organise our thoughts and set out our priorities before God. Bible reading can be a source of both comfort and joy. A well-chosen text can make light of our troubles or express our pleasure when things go well.
We pray that you’ll never have to face an extreme crisis like that suffered by the Walker family. However, there are times when a strong faith can make a vital difference to your life:

Childhood can be a happy, but also bewildering time. Getting to know the world and how we should act towards our family, friends, teachers and others whom we encounter can involve a certain amount of pain and embarrassment, as well as pleasure. Children sometimes have to deal with breakdown in their parents’ relationship and cope with the other relationships their parents may later form. Joining in Christian activities with other children at a church gives a feeling of belonging to a larger family, with friends who can be depended on. It also encourages children to see the world more clearly and to relate confidently and generously to people of different family backgrounds, cultures and faiths.

The teenage years are years of uncertainty, where a whole new adult world beckons. Wrong decisions can seriously hurt and have long-term consequences. It’s a time to experience what life has to offer, while trying to remain in control. There’s all the joy and anxiety of trying to form relationships and of dealing with any that turn sour. Christianity’s focus on considering the needs of others helps in forming loving, stable relationships and in dealing with problems within them. There can be a temptation to sample life at the extremes, fuelled by alcohol, drugs, sex and the goadings of others. There’s no difficulty getting there: the problem is getting back. Too often, life chances are squandered, even to the extent of premature death. Society as a whole loses the benefit of the good things that such victims would otherwise have done. A Christian faith offers a way of staying in control and avoiding being ensnared by life-blunting temptations. That doesn’t mean having no fun – it just provides a frame of reference against which to measure what you’re doing. Attending Christian activities – which can include youth groups, student groups, charity support groups and rock concerts as well as church – also gives feelings of solidarity, that you can be happy about making sensible and compassionate decisions without feeling like an ‘odd one out’.

Early adulthood is a time of choice - about job or career direction, about relationships, about family formation. It can be difficult to maintain life balance. How td I juggle my work, home and other commitments? Do I put off relationships and family in order to build a solid career base? Will I ever have a partner? Why can't I form a satisfactory relationship? Can we afford children? Do I work extra hours or away from home in order to boost my earnings or job prospects, even if that strains my family relationships? Why did our relationship break down? When can we do things together as a family? Faith can help us to understand our choices and to make better life decisions, while church provides a focal point in our lives, where we can do things individually, or together as a couple or family. It gives a chance to step away from work preoccupations and to think about important things in life that we otherwise wouldn't feel we have time for and let slip by.

Parenthood brings some of the greatest joy that you can experience, but with it there are often concerns about the future. What kind of life do I want my child to have? How can I give my child the best chance in life, especially if we’re not well off financially? How can I help my child to develop socially and encourage good behaviour? Having faith and belonging to a church can be like being part of a bigger family, allowing you to mix with parents sharing exactly the same concerns as you have. And, as your children grow up, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that they’re safe among good friends.

Later life can often be a time of ‘crisis’, or at least uncertainty about the future. Children may now have left home, or you may never have had any. A spouse or partner may have died, or a relationship may have broken up and you feel increasingly alone, perhaps even years after the event. Or you may belong to a group largely ignored in the modern world: those who have never been in a relationship. Work may become a burden, less interesting and more pressured, or there may be a threat of redeployment or redundancy. You may suffer health problems, which make it more difficult to live the way you have in the past. You may be quite successful and comfortable, yet feel that life has lost meaning. Having faith and attending a church won't stop bad things from happening, but they’ll make you stronger and more able to cope with them. They’ll also give your life more meaning. To Christians, sharing a burden doesn’t just mean offloading your own problems – often, you’ll be able to help others too. You may be surprised at just how fulfilling that can be. Remember – being a Christian is just as much about joy as about comfort!

Old age can be a time to reflect on life . . . and death. You may be blessed with good health and fitness or you may be restricted in some ways, by failing eyesight or hearing, by difficulty in walking or by more serious illness or disability. You may be surrounded by caring relatives, or you may find yourself alone. Many older people find their faith to be a rock-solid support in their everyday lives and the weekly church service and church social events something to look forward to. To many an old person left on their own, the church service is a highlight of the week. To sit in beautiful surroundings, admiring the flowers, enjoying the service, then afterwards chatting to friends, finding out what’s been happening to everyone, watching the children run about and hearing about their activities, are real pleasures without which life could be pretty empty. And, if you can’t get to church, church will come to you! Visitors from the church can administer Holy Communion in your own home. And, in the end, a strong faith will help you to accept death and to see it, not as final, but as a stage in the plan that God has drawn for you.

Can you see two common themes throughout all this? ‘Faith’ – what is within you, and ‘church’, by which you reach out to other Christians and other Christians reach out to you. Faith is about living out Jesus' precepts of loving God and loving your neighbour as yourself; church is about expressing those precepts as part of a group.

Coming to church
One of the differences you will notice about the United Reformed Church from The Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches is there are no Bishops or Archbishops. In this respect, the URC is regarded as a “non-conformist” church. We have Elders, who act in a similar way to Deacons or Stewards in the Methodist and Baptist churches in assisting the Minister in the pastoral care of the members and adherents. In addition, the elders act as a management committee of each church, but regular church meetings are held to obtain the approval of the members on any actions affecting the church family. This is only a very basic introduction to the practice of Christianity. There's a lot to learn yet about Christian concepts of grace, acceptance, peace, forgiveness and love. The best way to do this is to come to church.

Some Christians may come to church only occasionally. Many will attend a Sunday service at church most weeks, quietly and unobtrusively reaffirming their faith. Such people strengthen their faith, and the faith of the rest of the congregation, simply by being there. Their contribution is valuable and church life would be very much poorer without them. Some will attend supplementary prayer and worship activities such as a Prayer Group. Others may involve themselves directly in the work of the church - anything from conducting healing ministry (after special training) to simply handing out the books on Sunday - or in the work of Christian charities such as Christian Aid or The Leprosy Mission.

All of these avenues are open to you at the United Reformed Church. You'll be encouraged to do what you feel called to do, but you won't be pushed into doing things that you don't have the time or inclination for. If you just want to come to church on the occasional Sunday, that's fine. If you’d like to involve yourself in the work of the church, even at a fairly basic level, we’ll be glad of your help. Whatever your circumstances, we invite you to come along and give us a try. You don't need to contact anyone before coming - just turn up!

You don't need to get dressed up. If you're not sure what to wear, dress as you would if you were going shopping in town. What you wear isn't important - it's the fact you're here that matters!

We'd suggest that you come to a Sunday service for your first visit. To see where we are, go to the Coming to Church page for what to expect and our locations. Please don’t be afraid to speak to people. If you haven't already spoken to someone, please speak to the Minister when she greets you on the way out at the end of the service. She'll show you the way to the church hall for light refreshments and will introduce you to members of the congregation. No one will visit your home unless you want us to and we won't phone you unless you ask us to.

We look forward to seeing you!

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